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Encyclopedia > Juvenile court

Juvenile courts or young offender courts are courts specifically created and given authority to try and pass judgments for crimes committed by persons who have not attained the age of majority. In most modern legal systems, crimes committed by children and minors are treated differently and differentially (unless severe, like murder or gang-related offenses) regarding the same crimes committed by adults. In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the adult insect stage, see Imago. ...


Purpose of Juvenile Court

One of the purposes it was founded on was to give young, impressionable youth a second chance supposedly offering counseling and other programs for rehabilitation, as plain punishment was deemed less beneficial.

United States of America

In all but three states, anyone charged with committing a criminal act before his or her eighteenth birthday is initially processed as a juvenile defendant. In New York, Connecticut and North Carolina, however, the minimum age at which all accused persons are charged as adults is 16. This article is about the state. ... Official language(s) English Capital Hartford Largest city Bridgeport Largest metro area Hartford Area  Ranked 48th  - Total 5,543[2] sq mi (14,356 km²)  - Width 70 miles (113 km)  - Length 110 miles (177 km)  - % water 12. ... Official language(s) English Capital Raleigh Largest city Charlotte Largest metro area Charlotte metro area Area  Ranked 28th  - Total 53,865 sq mi (139,509 km²)  - Width 150 miles (240 km)  - Length 560[1] miles (901 km)  - % water 9. ...

The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1967, that children accused in a juvenile delinquency proceeding have the rights to due process, counsel, and against self-incrimination. Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Abe Fortas wrote, "Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court." [1] Abe Fortas (June 19, 1910–April 5, 1982) was a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice. ...

Eligibility for Juvenile Court

Generally, only those between the ages of seven and thirteen years old are accountable in a juvenile court.[2] Someone below age seven is considered too young and those above age fourteen are considered old enough to be held accountable in either juvenile or adult courts. However, not all juveniles who commit a crime may end up in juvenile court. A police officer has three choices:

  1. Detain and warn the minor against further violations, and then let the minor go free
  2. Detain and warn the minor against further violations, but hold the minor until a parent or guardian comes for the minor
  3. Place the minor in custody and refer the case to a juvenile court.

Can Formal Charges Be Avoided?

In a juvenile court, it is possible to have formal charges being placed avoided. "Find Law" lists seven official factors that can help formal charges be avoided:[3]

  1. The severity of the offense. A serious crime is more likely to result in the filing of a petition than a less serious crime.
  2. The minor's age. Petitions are more likely to be filed in cases involving older children.
  3. The minor's past record. Formal charges are more likely when a minor has been previously involved with juvenile court.
  4. The strength of the evidence that the minor committed a crime. Obviously, stronger evidence leads to a greater likelihood of formal charges.
  5. The minor's gender. Formal charges are more likely to be filed against boys than against girls.
  6. The minor's social history. Petitions are more likely to be filed when children have a history of problems at home or at school.
  7. The parent's or guardian's apparent ability to control the minor. The greater the lack of parental control, the more likely the intake officer is to file a petition.

Along with these seven, five "unofficial" factors can sway an official:

  1. The minor's attitude. Formal proceedings are less likely when a child shows remorse for committing a crime.
  2. The minor's manner of dress. If the young person dresses well, is neatly groomed and is polite, intake personnel are more likely to handle the case informally.
  3. Whether the minor has family or community support. The more support the young person has, the more likely the intake officer is to deal with the case informally.
  4. Whether the minor has an attorney. Disposing of a case informally may be less likely when a child has a lawyer.
  5. Ethnicity and socio-economic status. Statistics suggest (though few, if any, intake officers would admit) that the ethnicity and socio-economic status of minors often affects how aggressively their cases are handled.


In his 1997 book No Matter How Loud I Shout, a study of the Los Angeles' Juvenile Courts, Edward Humes argued that the system is in need of a revolutionary reform. He stated that the system sends too many children with good chances of rehabilitation to adult court, while pushing aside and acquitting children early on the road in crime instead of giving counseling, support, and accountability. 57% of children arrested for the first time are never arrested again, 27% get arrested one or two more times, and 16% commit four or more crimes. Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and published non-fiction writer. ...

External Links

  • Information about Juvenile Justice from the Penal Reform International website.
  • National Juvenile Defender Center
  • Juveniles involved in the Justice System a review of the juvenile justice system in the United States, comparing it to Canada.
  • Violent Justice: Adult system fails young offenders
  • Prevent Delinquency Project


  1. ^ In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 28.
  2. ^ When a Minor Commits A Crime. Find Law. Retrieved on 2007-05-31.
  3. ^ When a Minor Commits A Crime. Find Law. Retrieved on 2007-05-31.

  Results from FactBites:
Clallam County Courts - Juvenile Court (3194 words)
Many juvenile respondents are released at this hearing to their parents, guardian or person having custody or control of the juvenile, with a personal promise that the juvenile will return to court when required for an Adjudication Hearing.
If a Judge determines that the juvenile respondent is incompetent and will not become competent in the near future, the Judge has options: the Judge may order that the juvenile be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for treatment or the Judge may dismiss the charges and the juvenile is then released from custody.
An appeal is a request from the juvenile through the juvenile's defense attorney asking for an appellate court to review the case to determine if all of the juvenile delinquent's rights were observed and the procedures and laws were followed.
Judicial Branch of Georgia :: Juvenile Courts (187 words)
The purpose of our juvenile courts is to protect the well-being of children, provide guidance and control conducive to child welfare and the best interests of the state, and secure care for children removed from their homes.
Juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in cases involving capital felonies, custody and child support cases, and in proceedings to terminate parental rights.
Juvenile court judges are appointed by the superior court judges of the circuit to four-year terms.
  More results at FactBites »



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